Historically a cortisone shot in the knee has been one of the most common treatments in orthopedic surgery. We still use them for patients with knee arthritis, and occasionally we will try one for a patient with knee pain and swelling for other reasons. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss the pros and cons of cortisone injections as well as what they actually do.

Rawya in North Carolina asks:
I have a degenerative posterior horn meniscus tear in my knee and a small ulcer in the bone. It has been almost nine weeks. I’ve tried anti-inflammatory medications and ice, and I saw several doctors. The knee is swollen and uncomfortable. Would a steroid shot help? Or would extraction of the fluid help relieve the pain? Are there any side effects to the cortisone? Or would the swelling reoccur, and if so, would it be more severe?

Cortisone is a steroid that acts to decrease inflammation in the knee. In some ways, it’s much like taking a large dose of anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, but the effects work only on the knee since that is where it’s placed. Cortisone doesn’t help the injured structure within the knee heal or return to normal, but it can help to decrease pain and swelling.

In this video, I share my thoughts on when these treatments can be a good idea. For what problems are cortisone shots helpful, and when would they not provide much relief? Are they harmful to the knee? Can I get too many cortisone shots? And what options other than a cortisone shot are available?

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – How often can you get cortisone injections?
Ask Dr. Geier – Do cortisone shots help meniscus tears?

Doctor giving patient a cortisone shot

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